Diners Driving: Starbucks vs. Costa


Starbucks and Costa. They have always fought for their food and drink offerings, especially during the holiday season.

Consumers see everything from chocolate and orange toast to vegan winter sandwiches and brie, maple and cranberry bacon paninis, caramel and nut lattes and After Eight hot chocolate.

Both cafe chains seem to stand out every year when it comes to their Christmas menus, bringing back old favorites as well as mouth-watering new additions, but which one outshines the other?

Which coffee giant has established itself?

Starbucks vs Costa Festive Menu

As it is the season for good humor, myself and Julia Bryce, a food and drink journalist, took it upon ourselves to contrast four elements from each of the brand’s menus in the last of our driving tasting tests.

These included two drinks, one being a hot chocolate and the other being a latte, a savory dish, and a sweet treat, which had to be a chopped pie (of course).

The drive-thru from a Costa location.

After visiting the Costa drive-thru in Tullos, located on the corner of Abbotswell Road and Wellington Road, we made our way to the Starbucks drive-thru at Wellington Circle Retail Park in Altens.

Starbucks order total was £ 14.94, while the Costa order cost £ 13.15.

Acquired property, it was time to decide which items belonged to this year’s beautiful list and which should be placed firmly on the villain list.

The command (Costa):

The order (Starbucks):


The results

So which party menu made Julia and I happy and bright, and which one failed to hit the mark?

Costa

Terry’s Chocolate Orange Hot Chocolate

Terry’s Chocolate Orange hot chocolate is back on Costa’s Christmas menu (after launching in 2020) to help get us all in the festive spirit.

Was it successful? No, it actually fell flat.

A chocolate orange is a popular treat this season, and while the chain managed to replicate the taste in liquid form, it was more synthetic than anything else.

And if you don’t have a sweet tooth, be sure to stay away.

Presentation

Julie: 2/5

Karla: 2/5

Taste

Julia: 2.5 / 5

Karla: 2/5


Gingerbread Latte

We had differing opinions on the gingerbread latte which features Costa’s classic latte with gingerbread syrup and is topped with a mini gingerbread man – a nice touch.

While Julia thought the taste of gingerbread was missing, I picked it up from the start.

This is certainly one for those who are not too fond of lattes with a heavy dose of coffee.

Presentation

Julie: 2/5

Karla: 2/5

Taste

Julie: 2/5

Karla: 3/5


British Turkey Party Sandwich

Benefiting from almost identical ingredients to Starbucks Turkey Sandwich, Costa decided to skip the mayonnaise when preparing its creation. What a big mistake.

The sandwich was dry and the only flavor that came out was in the stuffing, and even that wasn’t too good either.

Presentation

Julie: 2/5

Karla: 2/5

Taste

Julie: 2/5

Karla: 2/5


Thin butter tart

The item that came out on top of Costa’s drive-thru was their chopped butter pie.

Composed of a butter tart base filled with minced meat, topped with a pastry decoration and finished with a dusting of sugar, it could not have been more festive.

The same could be said of the taste. It had a nice spice and sweetness, and was structurally safe, so could easily be enjoyed on the go.

The only thing that could have improved the treat the most slightly was a little more filling, but it was still a triumph.

Presentation

Julie: 5/5

Karla: 5/5

Taste

Julie: 4/5

Karla: 4/5


Starbucks

Caramel Waffle Latte

The Starbucks Caramel Waffle Latte intrigued Julia. Not only was the smell appealing, but the flavor was also very strong.

While Karla found the flavor of the coffee a bit overwhelming on the palate (which is due to her personal preferences), she enjoyed the spicy notes of the drink. Some would say it tastes like Christmas in a mug.

Presentation

Julie: 2/5

Karla: 3/5

Taste

Julie: 2/5

Karla: 3/5


Eggnog latte

Described as offering a “classic holiday flavor” on the Starbucks website, the eggnog latte was one of the highlights.

Featuring the brand’s signature espresso and rich steamed eggnog topped with a dash of nutmeg, it was silky, smooth and everything a delicious latte should be.

We both stepped back for seconds, third and fourth …

Presentation

Julie: 2/5

Karla: 3/5

Taste

Julie: 4/5

Karla: 5/5


It’s turkey sandwich season

The brand’s tis’ the season turkey sandwich contains all the essentials of a classic Christmas dinner, including turkey breast, smoked bacon, pork and onion stuffing, cranberry chutney , with the addition of mayonnaise in malted bread.

It was another remarkable element.

There was just enough of each ingredient and, unlike the Costa sandwich, it wasn’t dry, which the mayo and a substantial serving of cranberry chutney have to thank.

Presentation

Julie: 4/5

Karla: 4/5

Taste

Julie: 4/5

Karla: 4/5


Caramel nut cupcake latte

Unfortunately Starbucks was running out of tarts by the time we arrived which was disheartening for both of us.

It’s Christmas, who doesn’t have tarts on the go?

Heads shaking, we instead slipped into one of the other sweet options on the festive menu – a caramel nut cupcake latte.

While it certainly looks festive, the flavor of the coffee has taken over completely, leaving no room for the caramel.

As for the texture, it was way too wet and crumbly and would definitely be a pain for those looking to enjoy it on the go.

Presentation

Julie: 3/5

Karla: 4/5

Taste

Julie: 2/5

Karla: 2/5

The big winner in the Starbucks vs. Costa showdown was Starbucks who received a total of 51/80, while Costa received 41.5 / 80.


For more taste tests …


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